Chelsea Healy, SMC Corsair / Daily Press Staff Writer
The Santa Monica College (SMC) Corsairs (20-11) defeated the Riverside City College (RCC) Tigers (20-9) 66-54 Saturday, March 9 at Riverside City College to claim the Regional Finals.
SMC started out with a 7-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Kyle Young (#15) was the first to score with a lay up followed by a jump shot from sophomore Marcus Harris (#24) and then three-point shot by freshman point guard Teddy Parham (#1). The Tigers, ranked #8 seed in the Southern California playoff bracket, took their first timeout at 16:26 to adjust to the momentum SMC came with into the game. Riverside’s CJ Clark (#0) answered back by scoring 9 points to tie the game 11-11 at 10:57. RCC took the lead with nine minutes left in the first half and maintained SMC scoreless for five minutes. The Tigers rebounded and got SMC into foul trouble to have a 9 point lead with 5:56 remaining in the first half. In the last five minutes SMC managed to make a comeback with Teddy Parham (#1), Marcus Harris (#24) and Eli Degrate (#23) adding each a three pointer to the scoreboard to make the score 26-26. After Degrate managed to make a three pointer he fouled Riverside’s CJ Clark (#0) to give him two free-throws. Clark only managed to make one of the shots that led the score 27-26, but SMC’s Marcus Harris (#24) dunked the ball in the last 34 seconds of the first-half to make SMC lead 30-29 at half-time.
In the second-half, Santa Monica started off slow, unable to score in the first three minutes. Riverside’s Elbert Bibbs (#24) made the crowd go wild as he slammed dunked at 17:38 that put his team ahead 35-30. Riverside managed to come back with a lead but could not confine SMC’s height for rebounds and size.
“Riverside is smaller than us in height. We have a lot of length and size and I think that disrupted their flow a little bit,” said SMC Coach Joshua Thomas.
The Tigers are known for being a good three point shooting team and SMC managed to limit their three point attempts by playing tight defense and making them work for their points. Riverside was only 2-11 from the three-point range.
With fourteen minutes left in the second half, the Corsairs managed to make another comeback. RCC’s Cam’Ron Wilson (#5) fouled Marcus Harris (#24) which led to a three-point play. Harris was unable to finish the free-throw and it was rebounded by Lucas Zemen (#11) for an easy shot in the paint to make SMC’s lead 40-37. It was from that point on that SMC would remain in the lead by maintaining the Tigers’ three-point shots and playing tight defense. The Corsairs had their largest lead at 7:11 by fifteen points. The final score of the game was 66-54 in favor of Santa Monica.
Marcus Harris led the Corsairs with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Eli Degrate added 11 points shooting 4-7 from the field. Lucas Zemen finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Corsairs will now advance to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Tournament at Ventura College, which features the final eight playoff teams. They play in the quarter-finals against City College of San Francisco (29-1) who is rated #1 in the NorCal division Thursday, March 14 at 5 p.m.
This story is published as part of a partnership between the SMC Corsair student newspaper and the Daily Press.